Circular Stories

Bring your story full circle for best results

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. Every great story also brings the content around full circle.

You see this frequently in literature and film, often hidden as clues and foreshadowing. For organizations and businesses, this style of writing is important because it further emphasizes their purpose. Illustrating this technique is a story about Beth O’Shea, Supporter of Our Kids written by Joe Morris of Parthenon Publishing.

The Beginning of the Story

Sixth-grade teacher Beth O’Shea was giving a lesson to her students about teenage runaways, and discussing what to do and who to talk to if any of them were considering such drastic action. After that discussion, three girls approached her and told a story about being molested by a relative. O’Shea learned that these children were going through a “horrendous cycle of medical exams, police interrogations and being called tattletales by angry relatives.” One child said she wished she had never told. O’Shea went on to help start “Our Kids, a safe and supportive haven for children and families affected by child sexual abuse.”

The Middle

O’Shea, a chairman of the Junior League of Nashville’s community research committee, had the opportunity to work with a team from multiple hospitals to pull together a proposal to create a safe space for children.

The End

The end re-emphasizes the agency’s purpose, and what led to its creation: “We have created a fun environment, because what we’re doing is not … It took courage for a child just to walk down the hall… We are where that child is listened to, and believed.”

So how did Joe do this?

He engaged with her by asking how she got involved, and what kind of experiences in her own life led to her thinking about the need for an organization like Our Kids. From there, the conversation moved to what her motivation is to keep the project going, and then moved to her take on the organization now. These seem like simple questions, but what a talented interviewer can do is guide the subject to tell personal stories about their experience.

Success came from finding the person with the right details to create an impact. To fully tell the story, he asked a series of questions meant to guide the answers, not create them. The result was a story that not only provided historical information about how an organization came to be, but also provided personal insights that allow the reader inside Our Kids and, hopefully, become engaged and involved.

Circular story telling is compelling, action-oriented — and tricky. Need insights on writing yours? Contact Us.

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